Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1557–1570 | Cite as

Ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation under forestation scenarios: options to improve management in the Vez watershed, NW Portugal

  • Claudia Carvalho-SantosEmail author
  • Rita Sousa-Silva
  • João Gonçalves
  • João Pradinho Honrado
Original Article


Ensuring forest protection and the delivery of forest ecosystem services is a central aim of the European Union’s biodiversity strategy for 2020. Therefore, accurate modelling and mapping of ecosystem services as well as of biodiversity conservation value is an important asset in support of spatial planning and policy implementation. The objectives of this study were to analyse the provision of the multiple ecosystem services under two forestation scenarios (eucalyptus/pine vs. oak) at the watershed scale and to evaluate their possible trade-offs with the biodiversity conservation value. The Vez watershed, in northwest Portugal, was used as case study area, in which soil and water assessment tool (SWAT) was applied to simulate the provision of hydrological services, biomass and carbon storage services. Biodiversity conservation value was based on nature protection regimes and on expert judgement applied to a land cover map. Results indicated large provision of ecosystem services in the high and low mountain sub-basins. The overall performance for water quantity and timing is better under the shrubland and oak forest scenarios, when compared to the eucalyptus/pine forest scenario, which perform better for flood regulation and erosion control services, especially in the low mountain sub-basin. The current shrubland dominated cover also shows good performance for the control of soil erosion. The oak scenario is the one with less trade-offs between forest services and biodiversity conservation. Results highlight SWAT as an effective tool for modelling and mapping ecosystem services generated at the watershed scale, thereby contributing to improve the options for land management.


Biodiversity conservation value Ecosystem services Forestation scenarios SWAT Vez watershed 



This study was financially supported by FCT (Portuguese Science Foundation) and the European Social Fund through Ph.D. Grants: SFRH/BD/66260/2009 (C. Carvalho-Santos) and SFRH/BD/90112/2012 (J. Gonçalves). J. Honrado and C. Carvalho-Santos received support from FCT through Project Grant PTDC/AAG-MAA/4539/2012 (IND_CHANGE). R. Sousa-Silva was supported by a PhD Grant—FORBIO Climate project, financed by, Belgian Research Action through Interdisciplinary research.

Supplementary material

10113_2015_892_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 20609 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Carvalho-Santos
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Rita Sousa-Silva
    • 3
  • João Gonçalves
    • 1
  • João Pradinho Honrado
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Ciências and CIBIO/InBIO - Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos GenéticosUniversidade do PortoVairão, Vila do CondePortugal
  2. 2.CESAM and Department of Environment and PlanningUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  3. 3.Division of Forest, Nature and Landscape, Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesKU Leuven (University of Leuven)LeuvenBelgium

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